Pegasystems Has Thrived For Decades By Simplifying Business Complexity

A 27-year-old Alan Trefler created Pega for a very specific reason. Every tech-titan has their reason for being: Oracle was steeped in software, Salesforce found new ways to manage selling and Adobe answered the call for creative graphic design. As far as Pegasystems goes, it was purpose-built to solve complex business problems.

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“Prior to starting Pegasystems, I worked for a large New York bank as a systems integrator. Computers were getting faster, but we were still working in ways that seemed both grossly inefficient and not amenable to real customer success and happiness,” Trefler said in a 2017 interview. “I knew there had to be a better way to handle certain types of customer engagement and customer service issues. We came up with the idea for of creating an infrastructure for managing work.”

Trefler founded his company with the intention of moving beyond simple software solutions for the business world. Prior to Pega, he had built computer systems that could play chess and it was likely this work that sparked his interest in creating software that could independently achieve tasks within a defined set of parameters.

“When I started Pega, it was with the vision that we could create a set of metaphors – an intermediate visual language that would enable business people to more directly instruct the machine and put the heavy lifting not on the part of programmers translating into machine languages, but get the computer to really understand how business people wanted things to work,” Trefler explained. “That’s what set me and Pega on its journey. And it turns out to be a fairly hard problem to solve.” It didn’t stop them, however.

Their flagship product is the Pega Platform, which operates as part of the company’s Pega Infinity Suite, and is designed to empower businesses to build their own apps without no-code authoring experience. According to their site, their platform empowers businesses to build their own “enterprise-grade, agile application” that will play well with public cloud providers – such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and others.

Pega’s founder has very specific ideas on people-driven programming. Trefler says it sets his teeth on edge when he’s asked about human coding because, in his opinion, the AI brain is better at learning and can improve, adapt and implement that understanding by updating code. A superior solution is to have software writing software.

“It’s the failure of the software industry to do what we take for granted in manufacturing,” Trefler said. “When you’ve got a culture of programmers and data scientists, they’re protecting their own. In financial services, there are literally tens of thousands of software engineers. How is that possible? The senior managers haven’t caught on.”

The Cambridge-based business was bootstrapped in its early years and eventually went public in 1996. A man of many convictions, Trefler felt strongly about steering the direction of his company and passed on venture capital offers. “We went public in the ‘90’s and we’ve now got a couple of hundred million dollars of cash in the bank. So, we’re well financed at this stage,” the somewhat crusty CEO shared with Forbes. “We’re one of the few companies that customers can have confidence in that they are not going to wake up tomorrow and find that we’re part of Oracle.”

As far as the more forward-looking projections, Trefler tartly informed the interviewer that the future is so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. “Our historical strength is process automation, and AI made practical, doing it at scale, but not just big – sophisticated. Our typical competitors lack all those strengths.”